Top 10If you are a manager or HR specialist who has been hammering away at the same annual employee evaluation process year after year but don’t seem to be getting measurable results, you might be doing any of three things wrong. First, you may be using a method that doesn’t suit your business model. Second, you may be using a software platform that doesn’t suit your goals, or finally, you may be making some of the following appraisal mistakes. emPerform is counting down the top 10 appraisal mistakes:

1. Confusing excellence with growth: Growth and performance are not the same thing. If you’re evaluating new or struggling employees by the same criteria as your top performers, then you may be discouraging growth in the first and encouraging coasting in the second.

2. Unconscious bias: No competent manger shows intentional bias against employees based on race, gender, ethnicity, or even personal style. But unconscious bias isn’t deliberate and is therefore a much more insidious threat. Don’t let this mistake derail your company’s growth and scramble the value of your appraisal data.For more information about the most common manager biases that can affect evaluations, see also: Don’t Let Bias Backfire: Avoiding Common Employee Appraisal Biases.

3. Neglecting to draw conclusions from previous data: Actually use the data collected during previous years. Historical data can unlock some rather interesting and useful performance trends on both an individual and team level. If your current paper process doesn’t allow quick referencing of past review data, we suggest moving appraisals online where historical reviews are archived and historical data can be reported.

4. Evaluating attitude: Appraisal data should be based on performance alone, not attitude. A struggling employee is still a struggling employee, regardless of his enthusiasm or can-do spirit. Look past attitude, get to the heart of the problem, and get it resolved.

5. Using useless rating scales: The traditional ‘Exceeds, Meets, Needs Improvement’ rating scale (and all its variations) places the reviewer in the position of ‘judge’.  Our experience tells us that people are biased when handing out ratings and they tend to be more “nice” than “accurate”. Consider instead an Objective-Based rating scale or a Competency-Based rating scale to ensure accurate ratings across managers and departments and to eliminate any inconsistencies. See also: The Traditional Rating Scale Needs Improvement

6. Being vague about pay and performance: No matter what compensation model you have in place, it should be clear to employees and managers what impact reviews will play on their bottom line. Managers and employees should go into reviews knowing if they will or will not be discussing compensation and how those decisions are made. If you are using a pay-for-performance strategy, be clear about the processes and parameters at play. Some companies are even opting to separate goal setting from salary discussion as to not dilute either topic. See also: Is it time to split up? Separating Goal Setting from Salary Discussions.

7. Avoiding negative feedback: We get it – negative feedback is rough on managers to give and rough for HR to monitor but it has to be tackled head-on. Poor performance needs to be addressed so that timely solutions can be determined. There are ways to deliver this feedback without growing horns and here’s how: Tips for delivering negative feedback.

8. Perpetuating an annual review process that lacks substance: This is the worst and most common mistake managers and HR tend to make. If your evaluation method isn’t producing visible and measurable results, it needs to be changed. End of story. Having a meaningful and measurable review process is the difference between enhanced output and engaged employees as opposed to a workforce wasting time going through the motions of reviews. Consider both your appraisal method and frequency as well as the delivery and reporting. For great analysis of the different appraisal methods available, see: Which appraisal style suits your company?

9. Completing the process without listing measurable goals: Don’t just let employees walk away from an evaluation with a letter grade in hand. This isn’t school. Send each employee into the New Year with a clear list of realistic goals supported by the data generated during the evaluation.

10. Neglecting to follow through: Remember: a perfect appraisal method, a clear list of goals, and the best appraisal software platform in the world won’t mean a thing if you don’t follow through. Check-in with employees throughout the year to make sure milestones are being met. If development plans are put into place during the appraisal, ensure there are measurable ways for both managers and employees to track process and status throughout the year. If rewards were promised during the review, ensure it is delivered in a timely manner. Remember, the review is an overview of past performance and a great chance to lay down the tracks for increased performance and employee satisfaction. Without a plan and efficient follow-through of those plans, all is lost and you will have wasted time.

If you are looking for an easy way to ensure that you are getting the most valuable reviews possible from managers, consider emPerform – an online software suite that is easy to use and helps to simplify and automate reviews at every stage. Get started with a free trial.